Facing the big rotunda, she braced her nudity for a final walk through the halls of authority in her naked life. No sense in cowering. I’m Princess Tami, internationally known captive, walking to meet my jailers, cruel people who may have decided to release me. I will meet them and accept freedom but without undue thanks. She threw her shoulders back and padded down the carpet with her head held high, arms at her sides. Though people stopped to look at her -- ponies, let alone naked girls, were apparently not common sights here -- she nodded politely at them and went on as if unaware that she was naked, or as if being naked was natural and ordinary.
Conference room C.
She opened the door, steeling herself to once again stand naked before sitting questioners. But now there was only the older man, dressed in a tuxedo. He exuded power and sophistication and money. He had everything that Tami didn’t. The naked teenager looked at him up and down to his shiny black shoes and felt so weak and vulnerable in her total nudity. She had the urge to cower and cover herself. But then she straightened her shoulders again. Princess Tami.
Instead of the stern expression from before, now he had a kind smile which reminded her a little of Brian Cook’s. “Welcome, Miss Smithers. “My name is Taft McNamee.” He offered his arm. “Come with me, my dear.”
The naked teenager was having none of it. She wanted to smack him but knew that she was still dependent on his good will. So she nodded with a stone face and said, “O.K., let’s go.” He seemed unsurprised by her reaction.
He led her out to the hallway and up some stairs. They arrived at an elegant marble foyer. Tami felt the cool marble under her bare feet and heard the sounds of Mr. McNamee’s shoes as they walked across to a marble staircase with a red carpet. Sounds of people coming from above. They ascended the stairs.
Big doors opened and Tami’s eyes widened with surprise. “Lords and ladies, this is Miss Tami Smithers.” She blushed all over -- she was facing maybe thirty men and women, all exquisitely dressed, the men in tuxedoes, the women in long gowns. It was a big sunny room with a skylight. The far wall was just one big window, silhouetted by serving trays and caterers.
Tami’s first urge was to cover herself with her hands and run. But she knew how to handle public nudity by now. She stuffed the shame into the back of her mind. Seeing everyone waiting for her, she walked into the middle of the circular space they created and stood there silently, expressionless, concentrating on keeping her hands relaxed at her sides as people clustered from every direction, admiring her magnificent tanned nakedness.
“My you are a fine specimen.”
“Your training has been rigorous. Look at the definition in her gluteal muscles, Hal.”
“Such firm breasts. See, they don’t need a bra if they’re worked hard enough. I think naked ponies should be back in style.”
Tami let people look at her, and let them press their well-informed fingers into her firm muscles here and there. Then she turned to her host and whispered, “Mr. McNamee, sir, can I talk to you?”
They were in the foyer. “I am NOT a pony! You know that! Let me out of this place! And give me some clothes!” The naked teenager was furious and stamped her bare foot on the marble floor. That he could see her bare breasts shaking with her rage made her madder still.
“Yes, I’m convinced there was a mistake, but Miss Smithers, you are not out of the woods yet.” He had a tight smile. “I’m not the only power here. We want to take a statement from you. In the meantime you are still officially a naked pony. I suggest you continue to play that role. I’ve arranged things to be easy until the, uh, process is completed. Or do you want that tail in you again?”
Tami winced as she remembered the pain of being knocked around inside. She stood up to the older man, fists at her side. “You are mean. What you did to me was bad and you should be arrested. And the other people too.”
“I had to do it to test you, dear.” He unfolded a paper from his pocket. It was the note to her father that had almost been faxed. “If you want you can destroy -- ”
He was in mid-word when the naked girl grabbed the paper and ripped it up, her breasts jiggling, and threw it onto the floor. Then she stamped on the pieces, a ridiculous gesture in bare feet. A couple of those pieces stuck between her toes, unnoticed, as she said, “You were going to be mean to my dad, too. How could you do such a thing?”
“Much is at stake. We run a far-flung and lucrative business. As you can see for yourself.” He turned his hand as if showing her the luxurious foyer for the first time. “Millions of dollars go in and out of here every month.”
“This is a bad business. Those poor women . . .”
“They all agreed to it, dear.”
She looked him in the eye. “Really?”
“Do you want to see a sample contract?” Mr. McNamee unfolded another piece of paper from his envelope.
Tami grabbed it and started reading with intense curiosity. It was only a single page. The gist of it was: I agree to submit to the wishes of my masters for five years from the date of this agreement. I understand that I will be physically well cared for. I understand that servitude will involve heavy physical labor and bodily intrusions but no permanent injury or disfigurement. I also understand that I may be transported across state and international boundaries. Upon acceptance of this agreement a sum of $500,000 will be placed in an account with, etc., etc.
What caught her attention was the words “Star Spangled Banner”. “I understand that if at any time I want to revoke this agreement, I will hum ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. Upon such humming the following steps will be taken: a statement under oath, etc., etc.”
Tami’s eyes turned red with deep hurt and she stifled a laugh at the same time. Fate had played a joke on her. She remembered Jackson Dyle’s reference to the Star Spangled Banner. All she had to do was hum that song and she would have been free of him, and with clothing too. Or she could have hummed it here and been on her way out, again with clothes. Yet it seemed so stupid, so childish, hence the laugh.
Part of her wanted to thank Mr. McNamee for showing her this contract. She understood so much more now. But he didn’t deserve her thanks. She gave the contract back to him and said, “Those women don’t look happy.”
The older man shrugged. “What is in their heads, only they know. But they sign the contract and after five years they are well off. It’s an honest business.”